Fact Sheet - Bunya Mountains

The Bunya Mountains (Boobarran Ngummin) and the surrounding area are of deep spiritual significance to Aboriginal people (Jerome 2002). Every three to four years, when the Bunya Trees (Araucaria bidwillii) fruited, the Aboriginal people of the Darling Downs, who jointly managed Boobarran Ngummin, invited people from the coast to join in a festival that involves Bunya nut feasts, spiritual ceremonies, and activities that forge social alliances such as trade relationships and marriages (Jerome 2002, Rowlings-Jensen 2004).

Bunya MountainsBunya fruit and nuts
Bunya Mountains Bunya fruit and nuts

The traditional custodians of Gummingurru believed that the figurative symbols outlined by the stone arrangements represent the totems of the various clans that gathered on the site for initiation activities. The motifs are also likely to be associated with stories and songs about ancestral travel routes and their connections with Bunya Mountains (Thompson 2004). Some of these motifs are:

  • A turtle emerging from a waterhole, leaving behind wet footprints
  • An emu
  • A Bunya nut that points in the direction of Bunya Mountains (which can be seen from the site on a clear day). (Ross 2008).
 Can you see the turtle motif?
Can you see the turtle motif?

Besides Gummingurru, there are also other associated sites within the Cawdor locality that were part of the Bunya Mountains' cultural landscape. These include the main camp site and a women's ceremonial site.


  • Jerome, P 2002, 'Boobarran Ngummin: the Bunya Mountains', Queensland Review, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1-5.
  • Ross, A 2008, 'Managing meaning at an ancient site in the 21st Century: the Gummingurru Aboriginal stone arrangement on the Darling Downs, Southern Queensland, Oceania, vol. 78, pp. 91-108. 
  • Rowlings-Jensen, E 2004, 'Nuts, mountains and islands: a cultural landscapes approach to managing the Bunya Moutains', unpulished Bachelor of Social Science Honours thesis, University of Queensland, St. Lucia.
  • Thompson, B 2004, Gummingurru Stone Arrangement cultural heritage plan, unpublished report to the Gummingurru Trust, in Showbag Assignment 2, University of Queensland.